Rudresh Mahanthappa: Bird Calls
Tuesday, October 18th, 8 p.m.| Kate Buchanan Room, HSU
"Mahanthappa is to 'Yardbird' Charlie Parker what Albert Einstein was to Isaac Newton. He revises Parker's legacy to his own advanced understanding, yet preserves the essential truth of Parker's contribution to jazz."
—Victor L. Schermer, All About Jazz
Rudresh Mahanthappa has been on our radar for nigh on a decade, with a series of critically acclaimed discs that explore the music of Mahanthappa's South Indian heritage translated into the vocabulary of his own distinctive approach to modern jazz. Over all that time, the stars never quite aligned for a visit to Humboldt County. But we’re thrilled that Mahanthappa is here at last, now that his star is shining brighter than ever. His most recent album, Bird Calls, was at or near the top of virtually every “Best of” list for 2015, with DownBeat, Jazz Times, NPR, the New York Times, the Huffington Post, and others agreeing that his oblique tribute to Charlie "Bird" Parker was a contemporary classic. The album contains not Parker "covers," but rather hard-driving tunes that channel the Bird's revolutionary spirit. “The concept here is so inspired, the playing so incendiary,” raved Bill Milkowski in The Absolute Sound, “that five stars might not be enough.”
Born in Italy to Indian émigrés, Mahanthappa spent most of his childhood in Boulder, Colorado. After studies at the Berklee College of Music and DePaul University, he moved to New York City and quickly connected with other young musicians of South Asian heritage such as pianist Vijay Iyer and guitarist Rez Abbasi. Mahanthappa has twice traveled to India to study and gain a better understanding of the formal elements of Carnatic music, but his earliest musical hero was Parker, and any doubts about his jazz bona fides were laid to rest with a much lauded duo album with alto sax elder Bunky Green and a membership in the touring band of NEA Jazz Master drummer (and Miles Davis alumnus) Jack DeJohnette.
Mahanthappa is joined in the Bird Calls band by longtime collaborator Dan Weiss, a versatile drummer who is also steeped in South Asian music (and who has performed previously in RJA shows with David Binney and Rez Abbasi), and by the brilliant young trumpeter Adam O’Farrill, who has set the jazz world on its collective ear, releasing his first album at seventeen and placing third in the 2014 Thelonious Monk Competition at twenty. For this West Coast tour, the quintet is rounded out by pianist Joshua White and bassist Thomson Kneeland, whose collective credits include everyone from veteran bassist Christian McBride and rising star trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire to sax journeyman Dave Liebman and “third stream” pioneer Gunther Schuller.
Tickets ($15 General Admission, $10 Students & Seniors) are available here at our website and at People's Records, Wildwood Music, Wildberries, and The Works.
Rudresh Mahanthappa (who was recently appointed Director of Jazz Studies at Princeton University!) will also present an open, pre-concert public workshop at 2:00 on the afternoon of October 18th in HSU's Studio Theater (Theater Arts 115, to the left and down the hall from the Van Duzer lobby). People of all levels of experience are welcome to attend, and admission is FREE.
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